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GM India threatens to fire striking workers

GM has given an ultimatum to about 250 striking workers in Halol threatening termination of services unless they returned to duty by Friday.

General Motors India officials met Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to discuss further investments in the state,amid continuing 9-day long labour unrest at the car maker’s Halol facility that has resulted in production loss of over 700 cars so far.

Meanwhile,the company has given an ultimatum to about 250 striking workers threatening termination of services unless they returned to duty by Friday.

When asked about the meeting,GM India Vice-President P Balendran said: “Yes,we have just met him and other officials. But this meeting was mainly for our additional investments in the state for commercial vehicles from our partner SAIC’s stable and it was scheduled before the strike.

“Obviously,the Chief Minister enquired about the strike and asked (that) what is going on there… Government has been very pro-active in dealing with the issue.”

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He said the government has declared the strike illegal and imposed Section 144 of IPC near the plant location to prevent any possible gathering of agitators.

When contacted,Additional Principal Secretary to Chief Minister AK Sharma declined comment on the meeting with GM India officials and what steps the government is taking to protect the image of Gujarat as an investment-friendly and labour unrest-free state.

On March 16,workers resorted to strike at the Halol facility,which has an installed capacity of 85,000 units a year,protesting transfer of some employees to dealership outlets and opposing a long-term wage settlement agreement signed in December last year.

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The plant has one registered workers body – GM Employees’ Union. The company claims that a new union,formed under the aegis of Congress-backed Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC),has been spearheading the agitation.

Updating on the latest situation,Balendran said: “About 250 workers have not reported. We have already issued the ultimatum to the striking workers and asked them to join by tomorrow. If they do not,then we may even terminate their services and engage new workers.”

The company has so far suffered production loss of over 700 units since the beginning of the strike,he added.

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The facility,which employs over 900 workmen,has been rolling out about 70 units daily compared to its original 190 units. The company expects to produce about 100 cars from today onwards.

This is the second such incident at Halol in five months. The plant came to a halt for four days when workers went on a strike from October 29,2010,demanding wage hikes and GM India’s total production losses amounted to 450 units.

The Halol facility produces premium hatchback Aveo U-Va,entry-level sedan Aveo,mid-sized sedan Optra,premium sedan Cruze and multi-utility vehicle Tavera.

Besides Halol,GM India has another plant at Talegaon in Maharashtra with an installed capacity of 1.4 lakh units per year. It currently produces compact cars Spark and Beat.

The strike at GM’s plant comes at a time when Gujarat is trying to hardsell itself as an investment-friendly state.

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Interestingly,the Economic Survey for 2010-11 had said Gujarat witnessed the highest number of strikes and other forms of labour unrest in recent times on account of various financial and disciplinary issues.

Earlier this year,Modi had claimed the state was able to attract investments to the tune of Rs 20.83 lakh crore in the two-day long ‘Vibrant Gujarat Summit’ held in January.

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This,however,came under the scanner of Income Tax department,which recently slapped a notice to the state government seeking details on the 7,936 MoUs it had signed with several investors during the summit.

First published on: 24-03-2011 at 05:11:25 pm
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